Gut health is a 'mega trend'

Digestive health is the single-largest area of the food and health markets in Europe, Japan and South America — and it is on the path to becoming the largest in the US, too, where the food industry is at last embracing an opportunity it had neglected.

Just how big is the digestive health market? Julian Mellentin of New Nutrition Business, writing in 10 Key Trends in Food, Nutrition and Health 2010, dubs digestive health a "mega-trend" that is moving "beyond the tipping point."

"Digestive health is the single-largest area of the food and health markets in Europe, Japan and South America — and it is on the path to becoming the largest in the US, too, where the food industry is at last embracing an opportunity it had neglected until the sudden success of Danone's Activia probiotic brand forced food marketers to take notice," he said.

Activia, marketed with an explicit health message about digestion, raked in $130 million in 2006, its first year in the US market. Sales had rocketed to $327 million by 2008, and $345 million in 2009.

The recession has done little to slow this or any other digestive brand down. "Many well-supported digestive-health brands that deliver a clear benefit have recorded growth rates of 20 percent or more during the economic recession," he said.

Although probiotics have been the leading digestive ingredient, fiber is not far behind, Mellentin said, and in the case of solid foods, it is the clear digestive leader. "Certainly in solid foods, fiber has largely won the war on probiotics," he said. "Probiotics are not something that's seen as natural in solid foods — even when the technology allows it. Fiber has digestive-health benefits in solid foods all sewn up."

One novel fiber
Danisco has been busy banking on both of these digestive-health trends.

The company's novel soluble fiber, Litesse, has more than 30 clinical studies behind it. Litesse is a nondigestible, low-calorie, low-glycemic specialty carbohydrate that has been shown to increase fecal bulking and softening, decrease transit time, and lower fecal and colonic pH at doses as low as 4g per day.

"Recent human intervention studies, combined with in vitro and metabolism studies, have also demonstrated that Litesse functions as an effective prebiotic," said Michael Bond, Litesse business director. "It is able to improve the balance of the gut microflora by selectively stimulating the growth and activity of beneficial bacteria, while suppressing the amount of detrimental bacteria in the GI tract. Litesse has also been shown to have a sustained prebiotic effect throughout the length of the colon."

Unlike many other fibers and prebiotics, Litesse is extremely well tolerated with a mean laxative dose of 90g per day. In 2007, it was approved by the FDA for use in all foods except meat, poultry, baby foods and infant formula. It is now being used in thousands of products around the world.

Editor's Picks:

Probiotics: 'Friendly' bacteria help stabilize the digestive tract and aid in digestion. Tip: Use a prebiotic with the pros to improve their performance.
Deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL): This herbal extract has been shown to treat ulcers by protecting the stomach lining.
Fiber: Consumers dig it — it's not just for geriatrics anymore — and the research keeps piling up like a GI tract sans peristalsis.

Probiotics power
Danisco's HOWARU Dophilus probiotics (Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFM) have become one of the more documented lactobacillus on the market, with studies dating back to the early 1970s.

"HOWARU Dophilus has over 75 publications of successful clinical studies in peer-reviewed journals focusing especially on digestive health," said Peggy Steele, global business director, HOWARU food and beverages. "On top of the evidence provided by in vitro tests, human trials have demonstrated that Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFM survives GI transit and positively influences the microflora."

In addition to its unique ability to survive passage through the GI tract and extraordinary adherence to intestinal mucus, HOWARU Dophilus was the first probiotic strain to have a complete genome sequence published — something useful for regulatory, manufacturing and scientific purposes.

"It allows the assessment of safety, taxonomy (proper ID and classification) as well as phylogeny (origin and unique traits)," Steele explained. "This also provides the foundation for the improvement of manufacturing yields, product stability, shelf life and strain tracking."

Fish-oil supplier Nordic Naturals joined the probiotic bandwagon in June, with its launch of an EPA/DHA consumer product that adds 2 billion spores per serving of live probiotic.

"Our concentrated fish oil works in synergy with a unique spore-form probiotic, Bacillus coagulans, to deliver all the health benefits of omega-3s (EPA+DHA), while also supporting the immune system and promoting an optimal balance of healthy bacteria in the digestive tract," said Dr. Joseph Maroon, Nordic Naturals' medical advisor.

"Research shows that this unique spore-form probiotic delivers 10 times more live cultures than common probiotic yoghurt cultures. It also does not require special treatments, such as refrigeration."

The spores protect the probiotic from processing conditions — the only such probiotic on the market to do so. It is the BC30 brand from Ganeden. "We just issued our 101st patent for use and applications, we have a good IP position," said Mike Bush, vice president of business development at Ganeden. "We've also published nine studies in the last year alone, everything from supporting a healthy immune system when challenged with a viral or bacterial load to gut and IBS issues."

The probiotic's viability under processing assault makes foods clearly the ingredient's bailiwick. But Ganeden also has its own line of supplements, under the Sustenex line, in thousands of stores in the US.

"We really don't do supplements that compete head to head with our products, but the omega-3 project is an interesting product," said Bush. "It's rock-solid stable in the omegas."

Innovations in the category, from product combinations to more viable probiotics make probiotics a sure-fire growth category.

View chart.

Featured Suppliers

Sabinsa Corporation
Lactospore (Bacillus coagulans, formerly known as Lactobacillus sporogenes) GRAS self affirmed probiotic . its naturally encapsulated spore form offers stability at room temperature without refrigeration, amenability to a variety of processing conditions, and sustained activity in the gut, to support a healthy balance of microflora. A clinically studied and well characterized probiotic strain.
East Windsor, New Jersey, USA

Other Suppliers

BI Nutraceuticals

Oliggo-Fiber inulin
Oliggo-Fiber inulin, known as the "invisible fiber," can be incorporated into almost any food or beverage without affecting taste or texture. Inulin is recognized as a prebiotic ingredient that supports the natural, healthful bacteria in the lower GI tract. Research also indicates that inulin may enhance dietary calcium absorption, particularly among preteens and postmenopausal women.
Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA

Embria Health Sciences
The immune and prebiotic effects of the immune health ingredient EpiCor® have been shown to be complimentary to gut health. In addition to containing protein, fiber, vitamins, amino acids, antioxidants and other metabolites that deliver nutritional benefits, EpiCor® contains oligosaccharides that are clinically proven to be beneficial to gut immune health.
[email protected]
Ankeny, Iowa, USA

Gum Technology Corporation
Coyote Brand Konjac

Heartland Flax
Flax Seed

Improve USA, Inc.
Aloe vera gel products
The Aloe vera gel products are processed from the inner fillet and have been shown to aid in gastrointestinal disorders. Studies have shown the soothing effects of the aloe aid in calming the effects of an irritable bowel.
[email protected]
Desoto, Texas, USA

Lonza Inc.
FiberAid is a soluble prebiotic fiber with good digestive tolerance and technological properties. It is water soluble, stable against a wide pH and temperature range and forms low-viscosity solutions.
[email protected]
Allendale, New Jersey, USA

NP Nutra
Amla, Aronia, Moringa

National Enzyme Co.
BioCore line of superior digestive enzyme products is all that is needed to create the world's best digestive solutions. BioCore AR,Biocore Optimum, BioCore Carbo, BioCore Lipo, BioCore Pro, BioCore Kids, BioCore Dairy, BioCore Dairy Ultra, BioCore DPPiv, BioCore Edge, BioCore®Optimum Complete.
[email protected]
Forsyth, Missouri, USA

National Starch Food Innovation
Hi-maize resistant starch, Hi-maize whole grain corn flour, Nutriose soluble fiber

Nutraceutix, Inc.
PrimeBiotix Bulk Probiotic Powders, Patented BIO-tract Delivery System Probiotic Caplets, Contract Manufacturing/Private Labeling

Roquette America Inc.
NUTRIOSE is the name of an innovative and patented range of soluble dietary fibres obtained from cereals. NUTRIOSE promotes healthy eating by improving nutrition profile of food while maintaining their original taste. Use NUTRIOSE to: increase fiber content to contribute to recommended daily intake; decrease calories intake; bring specific nutritional benefits.
[email protected]
Keokuk, IA

Salba (Ancient Naturals, LLC)
Salba whole seed, Salba milled seed, Salba seed oil

UAS Laboratories, Inc.
UAS Probiotic Blend #3
Premium probiotic blend containing proprietary superstrain, Lactobacillus acidophilus DDS-1(50%), Bifidobacterium longum, Bifidobacterium bifidum and Bifidobacterium lactis (combined 50%) at a potency of 10 billion CFU/g, fortified with prebiotic FOS. Multi-strain high-potency formula for adults. Promotes digestive health and boosts immune function. Room temperature (70°F) stable for two years.
[email protected]
952-935-1707 / 800-422-3371
Eden Prairie, Minnesota, USA

Hide comments


  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.